A proposed Regional Policy Statement (RPS) being released tomorrow for consultation contains new policies for a new era of economic and environmental management, says Environment Waikato chairman Peter Buckley.
“Our recent research shows the economy and the environment are top-of-mind issues for Waikato people and this proposed RPS takes those concerns very seriously.
“We need to position the Waikato to be economically stronger by protecting what we have and making the most of new opportunities,” said Cr Buckley.
He said the Waikato region was on the threshold of ground-breaking co-governance arrangements for the Waikato River through a new Crown-iwi body.
The proposed RPS contains the iwi vision and strategy for protecting the river which will strongly influence the way water and land is used in our region.
“The proposed RPS also suggests ways of better protecting outstanding natural features and landscapes, which are of great value to Waikato people.
“Taken together, the suggested new policies are designed to help the Waikato maximise its economic potential and sustain a high quality environment,” Cr Buckley said.
The proposed RPS is a far-reaching planning tool that enables the use of natural resources, such as water and land, and allows for the development of roads, infrastructure and buildings in ways that maintain a healthy environment.
Under the Resource Management Act, the RPS is required to identify the significant resource management issues for the Waikato region and set out how the regional community will manage resources such as air, biodiversity, coastal environments, freshwater, geothermal resources, landscapes, land and soils in ways that provide for the present without compromising the ability of future generations to provide for their own needs.
The key resource management issues identified include the declining state of the region’s natural resources, adaptation to a changing climate, encouraging energy conservation and efficiencies, the way land is used and developed, protection of the Waikato River and the relationship of tangata whenua with the environment.
Key new proposals concerning the economy and environment include:
· Taking a “smart growth” approach to regional development, including stronger direction for land use planning and greater coordination of new developments with transport and other infrastructure through sub-regional growth strategies such as Future Proof in the Hamilton basin, the Coromandel Peninsula Blueprint, Taupo District 2050 and the Franklin District Growth Strategy.
· Encouraging energy-efficient urban development and the use of community-based renewable energy technologies
· A catchment based approach to managing fresh water quality which takes into account land use near water bodies and is considered the most effective way of making improvements
· Established values for fresh water that should be maintained
· Specific sites where high water quality should be maintained
· A targeted approach to reducing sediment and microbial contamination of water
· A priority system for allocating water
· The identification of 12 regionally outstanding natural features that will be targeted for special protection, including Lake Taupo, sites on the Coromandel, Maungatautari, Mt Karioi and Mt Pirongia.
· Further restricting vehicle use in sensitive coastal areas.
Cr Buckley encouraged people to have their say on these and other matters in the proposed RPS.
“The Waikato region has some of the fastest growing areas in the country. So we need to manage our resources carefully to help support the economy and to maintain the outdoor way of life we value so highly in the Waikato.
“Public input into our RPS development will help ensure it best reflects the community’s concerns and interests.”
Submissions on the proposed RPS will close 28 February 2011.
More details about the proposed RPS will be provided to households in a special edition of EW’s Envirocare magazine due out shortly. Also, more information on the proposed RPS will be available at www.ew.govt.nz.